By Jesse Wood
Aug. 12, 2014. Residents of Blowing Rock will have at least two chances to hear from Town Manager Scott Fogleman this week regarding a general obligation bond referendum to improve millions of dollars of infrastructure. The referendum is planned to come before the town voters during the general election in November.
The first opportunity to hear from Fogleman on this issue is at the Blowing Rock Town Council meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 12. The meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. and Fogleman’s presentation is among the first few items on the agenda.
The second opportunity will take place at a Blowing Rock Chamber-sponsored event called the State of the Town, which will be held at the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum’s community room on Thursday, Aug. 14, at 5:30 p.m. This event is open to the public and the bond referendum is among a number of topics to be explored on Thursday. See attached flyer.
Fogleman, who lists in his resume that he has assisted in the development of seven approved bond referenda totaling $355 million as budget director in Cary, brought up the idea for a referendum during a budget retreat with the council. It was noted that “many infrastructure improvements” were needed within the town, according to meeting minutes from May 13.
At a budget work session the following week, council further discussed the prospects of using the referendum for citizens to prioritize what improvements they would like to see in the future. These include improvements to governmental buildings, water infrastructure, paving streets, parks, underground power lines and more – all of which are outlined in the town’s 2014 Comprehensive Plan that was adopted in July.
In an email on Tuesday, Fogleman said, “We are planning four different questions for the ballot on November 4, 2014, with each to help fund capital infrastructure in the following amounts and categories.”
- $9 million streets
- $1 million parks
- $2 million water
- $1 million sewer
Fogleman added that the town is working on a comprehensive information program to inform the public with more details.
On Tuesday, Councilman Al Yount said he thought this referendum was a good idea.
“A bond issue just allows people to decide: Do they want council to spend the money or not,” Councilman Al Yount said when asked for a comment on the topic. “It puts the constituents in the driver’s seat.”
Councilman Dan Phillips noted that the council hasn’t heard much from citizens about this referendum.
“I hope it is a sign that everybody really knows that we need to get all of the work done. The reason I ran for mayor was to draw attention to infrastructure. I really am hoping that this is a sign that everybody realizes infrastructure has been let go for so long; it’s time to get it into shape,” Phillips said. “…And here’s an opportunity to get it straight.”
In September 2013, a month before the mayor election between J.B. Lawrence and Phillips, Phillips estimated there were between $40 million and $61 million of infrastructure improvements that were needed. See that list below: